On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul continued what’s turn into his customary methodology of interrogation when he has the chance to query Dr. Anthony Fauci: speak loudly, pay attention much less and proclaim unfounded theories as reality whereas providing zero substantiating proof.
The Kentucky Republican sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which heard testimony Tuesday from a handful of federal officers on efforts to fight COVID-19. As the nation’s high infectious illness skilled, Fauci was amongst them.
Until Paul took the ground, members of the bipartisan panel targeted on issues like vaccine efficacy and distribution, the best way to attain and reassure vaccine-hesitant Americans, and the way greatest to vaccinate populations outdoors the U.S.
Paul veered sharply in direction of much less productive waters, as he has almost each different time Fauci has testified earlier than him.
This go-around, Paul repeatedly tried to ensnare Fauci within the principle that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, the place he asserted that virologists intentionally created a extra infectious virus by means of “gain of function” analysis.
The senator then baselessly accused Fauci of supporting the usage of National Institutes of Health funds to assist the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a cost Fauci instantly dismissed in no unsure phrases.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect,” he mentioned. “The NIH has not ever, and does not now, fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Paul ignored the assertion and charged forward. “Government scientists like yourself who favor gain of function research ― ”
“I don’t favor gain of function research in China,” Fauci interjected. “You are saying things that are not correct.”
Paul then pursued confrontation elsewhere, difficult Fauci to “categorically say” that COVID-19 couldn’t have escaped a lab.
Fauci didn’t take the bait and once more pushed again on Paul’s narrative.
“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I’m fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China,” he replied. “However, I will repeat again: The NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain of function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
After Paul’s time expired, Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) asked a pointed follow-up:
“Dr. Fauci, what is the impact of conspiracy theories peddled by Sen. Rand Paul and others on Americans’ willingness to take this vaccine?”
“Conspiracy theories certainly are not helpful in what we’re trying to do,” Fauci replied. “I guess I can say that with some degree of confidence.”
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